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Dot Richardson

Contagious Enthusiasm…
They are positive thinkers… They are enthusiastic… and that enthusiasm rubs off.

Twice during the 1996 Summer Olympics, Dot Richardson and her teammates on the US softball team had faced the powerhouse team from China. Twice, in key situations, Dot had struck out.

So with the Gold Medal on the line, it was high drama when the captain of the American team stepped to the plate – and Dot put her previous failures out of mind. Then she hit a pitch out of the park.
Dot’s two-run homer gave the US the win and the team the Gold. Her play didn’t just propel the team, it propelled the sport of women’s softball to new heights in the first Olympics where softball was a medal sport.

But while Dot was a clutch hitter and a vacuum cleaner at shortstop, scooping up anything hit her way, those strengths weren’t her most important contribution to the championship team.

“Dot brought an enthusiasm to the field every day – whether it was a scorching hot practice or a Gold Medal game – that infected everyone else around her,” Olympic Coach Ralph Raymond told me as I was writing Dot’s autobiography, “Living The Dream.” “That was her greatest asset. She loved what she was doing and it showed. When people were around her, they couldn’t help but become better.”

dot 2Coach Raymond hit on a major key to Greatness in that statement – you can only become Great at a job or a sport if it is something that captures your passion. With every ball she gloved, every throw she made and every swing she took, Dot’s passion was joyfully obvious. “If you watched her play,” legendary sportscaster Bob Costas wrote in the book’s foreword, “you couldn’t question Dot’s passion.”

That’s the impact Dot Richardson had on her teammates. She encouraged and inspired them. She mesmerized them. In fact, that’s the kind of impact Dot has on a lot of people.

“We must always have confidence in our teammates,” Dot said. “Then we have to encourage them, not criticize them. If we’re not lifting each other, who is going to do it?”

With the 2008 Olympics in Beijing right around the corner, I can’t help but remember her as one of the greatest to ever represent our country. She was an athlete that brought so much more to the field than mere physical skill.

People like Dot Richardson are uncommon. Too often, teammates and coaches are openly critical, believing somehow that the criticism will improve performance.

That’s not how Great ones think.

Tips from the Great Ones

Dot Richardson was the glue that held team USA together in the 1996 Olympics. Always positive, always enthusiastic, she knew how to inspire everyone around her through word and deed.

dot 3Enthusiasm can carry one a long way toward greatness, and it’s no secret that success seems to follow Dot wherever she goes. She is a very talented and intelligent woman – you would have to be to accomplish all that she has on and off the field – but it’s her attitude and enthusiasm that has made Dot Richardson into the incredible success story she is today as an orthopedic surgeon and medical director working at the National Training Center in Orlando.


Too often, the energy of an office or a group is built around someone who is Dot’s polar opposite. Often times someone’s negativity or stubbornness can limit a staff from reaching its goals or living up to its potential. Those people are like cancer, and it is a true leader’s job to cut them from the body.

Edward B. Butler, a prominent American businessman, said, “One man has enthusiasm for 30 minutes, another for 30 days, but it is the man who has it for 30 years who makes a success of his life.”

Start your 30 years today. Look for something to compliment in every conversation you have today. A positive attitude brings strength, energy and initiative. To have someone in your life who is filled with enthusiasm is a treat.

Be that someone.

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About Don Yaeger

Don Yaeger

Don Yaeger is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), longtime Associate Editor for Sports Illustrated, 11-time New York Times best-selling author, leadership expert and executive coach.

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